With much ceremony, the Georgia General Assembly kicked off the 2018 legislative session last week. Thanks to election-year buzz, candidates have fueled talk of big education reforms that could see needed movement. Because this session is expected to fly by, we have our eye on a couple of key school choice bills that could shuffle through the process quickly.
Here are two important pieces of legislation that we hope will (finally) get the traction they deserve in the State House and Senate.
Tax Credit Scholarship Expansion
No child should be denied the opportunity to seek out the education they need because of an arbitrary government roadblock, but that’s exactly what’s happening to thousands of Georgia students.
The state currently offers limited access to a popular tax credit scholarship, allowing only a small number of families an opportunity to seek out the right education for their children. However, a low cap on donated funds has meant that generous contributors- and students the program is supposed to serve- have been turned away by the state because of over-demand.
Lawmakers are said to be considering raising the program’s $58 million ceiling, which would lift barriers for many more Georgia children. Because the kids waiting in line for scholarships can’t afford another year in the wrong classroom, we’re urging the legislature to waste no time in passing an expansion of the tax credit scholarship bill.
Education Savings Accounts
Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) aim to provide needed flexibility and customized education options for Georgia parents. Similar to Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), under an ESA, the state would put money into a restricted account for education expenses that parents would control.
While there are several versions of the legislation that seek to fit the needs of different families-such as those in the military or those with children who have disabilities- the passage of nearly any of these bills would make a big impact in the lives of many Georgia parents.
The Georgia Center for Opportunity is committed to removing barriers for our state’s kids so that they receive the education they need. While the legislature will have their hands full, we hope they agree that bills benefitting children and their families should stand out among their highest priorities. To follow the progress of these bills with us, check back on our blog or subscribe to the GCO’s newsletter.
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Both of these bills sound interesting and certainly a necessity given the current state of the public school system. I would be interested in learning more about them.